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The satisfaction, too, which they expressed, at the expected result of such a manifestation, could not but be pleasing to their Lord and Master: "Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us." It must not be forgotten here, that the Lord Jesus had been speaking to them of his expected departure, an event which they could not but contemplate with extreme pains. Yet, in the very prospect of such an overwhelming loss, Philip says, "Shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us;" that is, there is no bereavement which we shall not readily submit to, if only this extraordinary token of the Divine favour may be conferred upon us.
In this view, I cannot but consider the request as expressing a piety like that of David, when he said, "Many say, Who will shew us any good? Lord, lift thou the light of thy countenance upon us. That is the good, the only good, that my soul desires. But]
In some respects it was faulty
[Our blessed Lord had often represented the Father as speaking in him, and working by him, and as, in reality, one with him. Indeed, so plainly had he spoken on this subject, that his enemies had repeatedly taken up stones to stone him for blasphemy. They understood him to be affecting an equality with God, yea, and an identity with God: and they were filled with indignation against him on account of it, as an usurpation of the Divine prerogative"." And well they might be indignant, if he was not really God: for, after they had brought the accusation against him, he demanded, in yet stronger terms, their acquiescence in his claims, and their acknowledgment of him under his true and proper character. He told them plainly, that God required all men to "honour the Son, even as they honoured the Father;" that the works which he performed bore ample testimony to him as equal with the Father, because they were wrought, not, like the miracles of others, by a power derived from above, but by a power inherent in himself.
Now, of this the Apostles ought to have been aware: they should not have suffered things of such infinite importance to escape from their memory, or to pass without more minute inquiry into their true meaning: and least of all should they, when informed by their Divine Master in plain terms, "Henceforth ye know the Father, and have seen him," have questioned the truth of his assertion.
Inasmuch, therefore, as their reply argued a blameable ignorance and inadvertence, it may justly be considered as deserving of reproof.]
g ver. 2. with chap. xvi. 5, 6.
i John v. 19, 23, 36.
h John v. 17, 18. and x. 30, 33.
and x. 36-38.
Yet nothing could be more mild than, II. The reproof administered
Here let us mark,
1. How decisive was our Lord's assertion
["Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?" What words could our Lord have used more clearly declarative of his identity with the Father, than these? The way to estimate the force of them aright will be to put them into the mouth of any of his Apostles, or of any creature whatever. Can we suppose that any created being would use such words, and use them too in a way of reproof, and in answer to such a desire as was here expressed? No: if any creature in the universe dared to arrogate to himself such an identity with the Father, we should instantly unite with the Jews in denouncing him a blasphemer. Moreover, the very circumstance of its being a reply to such a request, and of its being uttered in so emphatical a manner; not as a mere assertion, but a reproof; and not in a way of simple affirmation, but in an appeal to the person reproved; this, I say, gives a weight and force to the words, which nothing can withstand. And, if they do not prove, beyond all reasonable doubt, the divinity of our Lord, we shall in vain look for words capable of expressing such an idea.]
2. How strong the testimony with which it was confirmed
["Believe me, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake." The repetition of the point before asserted, and of the very words in which it had been asserted, shews the earnestness with which our Lord sought to establish and confirm it. And, if his own testimony to this mysterious truth was thought not sufficient, he was willing to abide by that which was given in his works. Here it is of importance to observe, that, in this appeal to his works, we must clearly understand him as referring to the manner in which they had been wrought: for otherwise there would be no force in his appeal to them; since, if the mere working of miracles were of itself a proof of his identity with the Father, it would prove the same in reference to his Apostles; who, as he foretold, would soon work even greater miracles than any which he had wrought. But no Prophet or Apostle ever professed to work miracles by any power of his own: they utterly disclaimed any such vain
and impious conceit: whereas, Jesus, though he spoke of "his Father as doing the works," spoke of himself as concurring with the Father, in a way of personal and independent exertion'. And as this had been his habit from the beginning, he might well expect that his Apostles should have comprehended his meaning, and have been fully satisfied, that he was indeed "the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person m."]
We may SEE from hence,
1. How slow even the best of men are to apprehend and believe the truths of God
[After the day of Pentecost, the Apostles had juster views of their Lord and Saviour. They might then say with truth, "We beheld his glory, as the glory of the only-begotten of the Father"." But, previous to that time, they did not even understand the true nature of his kingdom: and the answer of Philip clearly shewed that they did not yet fully see him as their incarnate God. And is there not reason to complain that multitudes in this day hear the Gospel, but understand it not; and have the whole counsel of God declared unto them, yet perceive it not? It is perfectly surprising, that persons should have line upon line, precept upon precept, repeated to them for many years together, and yet never attain a distinct knowledge of "the truth as it is in Jesus." But so it is and our adorable Lord may yet, with just displeasure, address himself to many amongst us, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, PhilipP?" I pray you, brethren, be more attentive to the blessed truths which from week to week are brought before you; and "give more earnest heed to them, lest in future, as in past times, you let them slip 9."]
2. How much infirmity there is mixed even with our best services
[Certainly, upon the whole, the request of Philip must be considered as an expression of a pious mind. But yet it was full of imperfection. And who that examines his prayers, either in public or in private, must not blush at the recollection of the infirmities that have attended them? Were they all scrutinized, and weighed, as it were, in a balance, how
k Acts iii. 12, 16.
1 Compare ver. 10. with John v. 17, 19, 21. m Heb. i. 3. n John i. 14.
• Acts i. 6.
P This may be illustrated either in the plainer or in the more hidden doctrines of the Gospel, as occasion may require.
q Heb. ii. 1.
defective would they all be found! Had Philip's error not been pointed out, he would probably have taken credit to himself as deserving the highest commendation: whereas his words rather merited reproof. Let us not, then, be too confident respecting any of our services as pleasing and acceptable to God. At all events, let us bear in mind that they are attended with many imperfections; and that, "if God were to call us into judgment for them, we could not answer him for one of a thousand."]
3. What reason we have to bless our God, who has provided us with such a Saviour
[It is not a mere man, no, nor the first of all created beings, that is appointed to be a Saviour to us: but it is our incarnate God, "Jehovah's Fellow","" God over all, blessed for evermore "." Hear ye this, and rejoice, all ye who feel your guilt and helplessness! It is "God who has purchased the Church with his own bloodt:" it is God who has wrought out a righteousness for his believing people": He, "in whom all the fulness of the Godhead dwells," has in him 66 a fulness treasured up for us," out of which we are to receive, according to our diversified necessities, even grace for grace." Have you, then, seen Christ, known Christ, received Christ? You have seen, and known, and received the Father also. If Christ be dwelling in you, then does the Father also dwell in you: and, if you are one with Christ, then are you one with the Father also. Know ye this, my brethren, that He who has said, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth," has added, for your encouragement, " for I am God, and none else." Go on your way, therefore, rejoicing in him and let this be your song and boast, "In the Lord Jehovah have I righteousness and strength"."]
I Zech. xiii. 7.
u Dan. ix. 24. Jer. xxiii. 6. y Col. i. 19. with John i. 16.
s Rom. ix. 5. x Col. ii. 9.
t Acts xx. 28.
z Isai. xlv. 22.
a Isai. xlv. 24.
CHRIST ENGAGES TO ANSWER PRAYER.
John xiv. 13, 14. Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
THE Gospel is properly termed "glad tidings of great joy:" it finds men guilty; and reveals to them
a way in which their iniquities may be pardoned: it finds them polluted; and provides means for their restoration to the Divine image: it finds them altogether destitute; and supplies them with every thing that their souls can desire. The words before us are fully decisive on this point: they were addressed, indeed, by our Lord, to his own immediate Disciples only: but they must not be confined to any individuals of any age: they were intended for the whole world. As referring to the persons to whom they were addressed, they may be considered as including a promise of miraculous powers: but, as extending to us, they unequivocally engage that we shall possess all that we pray for, provided we ask for it in Jesus'
That we may more fully enter into the scope and meaning of them, we will shew,
I. To what extent Jesus will answer prayer
Our blessed Lord is appointed of the Father to answer prayer
[It was a part of the reward bestowed on him as Mediator, that he should have the whole universe subjected to his dominion. For this end, every thing, upon his ascension to heaven, was committed into his hands; that as a Prince" he might subdue his enemies, and as 66 a Saviour" he might secure the happiness of his believing people. He was in a more especial manner constituted "Head over all things to his Church"," and furnished with an inexhaustible fulness of all good, that he might communicate to all according to their respective necessities. He received gifts himself, in order that he might communicate them unto menf: and he will impart them to all who pray to the Father in his name.]
Nor is there any limit to his bounty in answering it
[In our own name it is impossible to approach God: he is a holy God; and we are altogether filthy and abominable: and of this our unworthiness we ought to be deeply sensible : but at the same time we should have such a view of Christ's worthiness, as emboldens us to expect the most favourable
a Phil. ii. 6—11.
d Col. i. 19.
b Acts v. 31.
f Comp. Ps. lxviii. 18. with the Apostle's citation of it, Eph. iv. 8.